Labor's plan to get cheaper gas flowing again
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is expected to arrive in the Port City today to announce Labor's plan to scrap the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and replace it with a new fund.
Labor's proposed Northern Australia Development Fund would provide a financing facility and work with Infrastructure Australia to identify and support projects of national economic significance in Australia's north.
As part of these changes, up to $1.5billion would be set aside to unlock gas supply in Queensland's Galilee and Bowen basins and connect the Beetaloo sub-basin to Darwin and the east coast.
The aim is to increase supply to Queensland and the eastern seaboard and put downward pressure on prices for gas users.
Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers said Gladstone-based industry such as Orica, Rio Tinto's Yarwun alumina refinery, Queensland Alumina and Boyne Smelters Limited would stand to benefit.
"Local manufacturers are well positioned to reap the benefits of the increased supply of energy at lower prices," Mr Beers said.
"Another exciting aspect of this announcement is what it means for the development of new local industries into the future."
The $5 billion NAIF was set up in 2016 as a corporate Commonwealth Entity to provide loans and fast-track infrastructure projects in Northern Australia. It has since faced ongoing concerns over its effectiveness and transparency prompting an investigation by the Auditor-General.
Last year Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd was forced to defend criticism that NAIF had spent just $15million of the $5billion on infrastructure projects in Northern Australia.
He told The Observer he had been working with Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan and the NAIF to get projects moving in Gladstone.
When asked at the time, Mr O'Dowd did not specify any local projects he had been working with.
A NAIF spokesperson last year said infrastructure investment "takes time".
Labor's NADF would take the Auditor-General's recommendations into account in the design of the new fund.
The NADF would honour existing projects and match the existing NAIF allocation of $5billion.
The changes would include measures such as allocating $1billion to tourism projects in the north, appointing indigenous people to the new board and establishing a memorandum of understanding with Indigenous Business Australia among other measures of inclusiveness.
It would also establish an MOU with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Energy Security Modernisation Fund to avoid duplication and support cooperation between the funds.
Political attention on the marginal seat of Flynn is intensifying with the visit coming a fortnight after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack made an appearance in town.